>Pamela Merritt has a wonderful opinion on RH Reality Check on women of color and the anti-choice focus on eugenics:
Just days before the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, a fellow activist sent me a link to a video posted by the anti-choice group Bound for Life. I was vaguely familiar with Bound for Life from having seen their members at protests, signature red tape marked with the word “Life” fixed to their mouths.
The video promoted an action that Bound for Life participated in at a new Planned Parenthood clinic being built in Houston. The spin for this specific protest caught my attention. The angle – that reproductive health care providers are organized to increase abortions by people of color in a plot to commit genocide for profit – has been in play by anti-choicers for years. That theory has been, is now, and will always be insultingly paternalistic in its assumptions about women of color seeking reproductive health care. The allegation is also picking up steam this Black History Month.
The first time I watched the video I was struck by the theories promoted through it – that communities of color are tragically ignorant of some long standing genocidal plot and desperately need organizations like Bound for Life to come to educate us, that the size of a reproductive health care clinic is in some way connected to it’s intended scale of abortion services and that the location of that clinic (in communities of color) is proof of some long standing genocidal plot. Bound for Life isn’t alone in putting forth these arguments. Anti-choice groups recently put up billboards in Georgia claiming that Black children are an endangered species and other organizations, like The Radiance Foundation, target religious people of color with the same anti-choice message; their stated goal being to illuminate, educate and motivate their audience.
The fallout from this rhetoric is hard to measure, but I’ve heard of the black genocide conspiracy for years. I am an activist in my home city of St. Louis Missouri and many of the young women of color I work with are aware of the rumors and ask questions about them.
In Missouri, where young people are often denied access to medically accurate comprehensive sex education in public schools, rumors can often be taken as fact. In my volunteer work I have met young women who thought drinking a certain soft drink would either prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections; others who have heard that contraceptives give users HIV; and some who were convinced that the withdrawal method protected them from sexually transmitted infections. In the absence of knowledge, dangerously inaccurate information reigns supreme without challenge or correction.
It is in that knowledge-vacuum that the black genocide conspiracy hopes to set up shop, with hopes to take advantage of the fruits of anti-choice labor that has systematically removed sex education from sex education. It’s more than ironic that anti-choicers–who work strenuously to deny to medically accurate sex education and prevention programs to young people of color–are now trying to rally communities of color through a pseudo-community education program built on the myth of black genocide. It’s far more than ironic…it’s shameful.
As a woman of color and a reproductive justice activist, I am appalled each time I hear the black genocide rap. Quotes by Margaret Sanger are tossed out as if she were a prophet, as if reproductive choice a religion, and as if pro-choice activists were fundamentalists bent on staying true to Sanger’s words as a person of fundamentalist faith would to the word of God. In reality, Margaret Sanger was a person whose work paved the way for legal access to contraceptives in this country. Sanger’s personal beliefs on eugenics were and are wrong and do not hold any place in the mission of reproductive justice or reproductive health care providers. We do not associate the Ford Motor Company with anti-semitism, despite the well documented history of it’s founder Henry Ford in collaborating with Nazisand we should not associate contemporary reproductive health care providers or the reproductive justice movement with eugenics because of some views expressed by Margaret Sanger.
But the truth has little to do with the black genocide scare tactic. The truth is that reproductive health care providers open clinics to provide access to the full range of reproductive health care services in communities that need safe and affordable health care. Those services include yearly cancer screenings, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, education on how to prevent sexually transmitted infections, education on how to prevent unplanned pregnancy and abortion counseling and services.
The truth is:
Clearly there are a lot of health-care related reasons why reproductive health care providers seek to provide services to communities of color.
Women of color are not children unable to make health care decisions, our children are not a species on the brink of extinction through an organized genocidal plot and justice is found when a people are unbound and empowered by medically accurate knowledge rather than dogma. This Black History Month, despite well-produced marketing campaigns designed to spark fear and perpetuate myths, we must recommit ourselves to the struggle for reproductive justice in our communities. Now, more than ever, we need to address the realities on the ground and reject the conspiracy theories being shouted by the anti-choice mob.
I’m glad someone addressed this issue as it has been nagging at me. I’m amazed how how little the paternalistic nature of this black genocide campaign has been addressed by fellow bloggers and the mainstream media covering the metro-Atlanta billboards. The whole notion extreme pro-life groups have that the black community is oblivious to the “abortion industry’s” plot to exterminate our race and their in-vain attempts to save us from the “abortionists” is just not only condescending, but reeks of remnants of the white man’s burden. These pro-lifers feel it’s their duty to save us from the so-called genocide abortion doctors are unleashing upon our people and to bring us into civilization, i.e. turning our backs on the right to choose.
I’ve blogged about the billboard campaign in the metro area and gave my two cents about the issue. Furthermore, I want to address the issue of referring to black babies as an “endangered species.”
To me, using the term species to describe black babies implies that these pro-life organizations have an inherent belief that black babies are inferior to other (white) babies.
Or, as these pro-life people may argue, they are trying to draw attention to a problem “plaguing” the black community: the higher rate of abortions among black women. Denigrating a group of people does not draw attention to the cause you are advocating; it draws attention to your underlying beliefs about the group of people you’re seeking to “protect.”
The bottom line is this, pro-lifers: black women are not feeble-minded people who are unable to make decisions about their reproductive health. We don’t need you coming into our homes and imposing your reactionary beliefs about reproduction onto our lives. Like white women, we are perfectly capable of utilizing our constitutional right to have (or not have) an abortion. Black babies are not endangered species, needing your protection from those evil Planned Parenthood folks. Black babies aren’t some distant species needing your special attention to “save” from extinction. They are not some foreign animal.
Your lies and distortions about abortion and a genocidal campaign underway in our community by those evil pro-choice advocates are falling onto deaf ears. It’s a shame you all have to resort to these scare tactics just to get yourselves on the news and airwaves.
The black community does not need you to come “save” us from our haze of denial. We need you to take your inherent racist, superior attitudes about us someplace where they will be accepted.